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PANTHERS WEDNESDAY NOTEBOOK: Panthers Top Line Struggles Without Versteeg ... Sens in Town

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

A big topic of conversation before the season started was whether the Panthers top line could repeat its contributions of last season.

With Kris Versteeg out the first four games (he could return off the IR for Saturday's game against the Flyers), Florida's top line has not done much of anything.

Center Stephen Weiss and left winger Tomas Fleischmann have started each of the first three games with different right ringers. In the opener it was Mike Santorelli with Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky following suit.

Weiss said having different players isn't an excuse to he and Fleischmann's slow start. Weiss had an assist in the opener but nothing since; Fleischmann assisted on Kopecky's goal Tuesday and also had one in the opener.

"This is the NHL. These are world-class players and it's easy to play with all these guys,'' Weiss said. "Verteeg is a great hockey player and [Fleischmann] and myself miss him for sure. But life goes on and we have to make it work without him.''

-- The Panthers did not make an official roster move Wednesday to replace defenseman Michael Caruso who broke his arm early in Tuesday's loss. Caruso, 24, was playing in his second career NHL game when he got hurt.

Kevin Dineen said the Panthers aren't expected to have Erik Gudbranson back until sometime next month. Gudbranson had surgery in September after injuring his shoulder wakeboarding near his hometown of Ottawa.

Even with Caruso out, Florida still has seven defenseman. Tyson Strachan or Keaton Ellerby are expected to be scratched Thursday.

When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560
The series: Ottawa leads 40-26-3
The game: The Senators continue to have Florida's number as Ottawa won its sixth straight on home ice against the Panthers 4-0 on Monday night. The Senators have also won 10 of the previous 11 meetings between the two. Craig Anderson, who picked up his 20th shutout on Monday, starts again for Ottawa. Florida's Jose Theodore stopped 32 of his first 34 shots faced before giving up two late ones in Monday's loss. The Sens are 2-0 this season and haven't played since Monday; the Panthers are playing their fourth game in six nights.


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George, do you realize that Weiss (our first line center) has ZERO shots on goal for the entire season to date?? Seems unacceptable to me, regardless of who his linemates are. Any insights??

great observation, he is soooooooooooooooooooo overrated

Panthers have no skill. Tallon is a fraud. We will be lucky to win 20 games this year.

In any other playoff contesting team Weiss would be a third liner. To his defense it is not his fault they put him in 'first row'. But then, who else do we have to fill the void?

Relax. The Panthers will win again and Weiss will score. They didn't have a legitimate training camp. The problem is they have to win now. Look for the Cats to play better at home tonight against Ottawa. They do miss Versteeg who is better than you think. Having Gudbranson, another great player, would help. Same goes for Goc and Bergenheim. Meanwhile, the guys have to fly around the ice and hit their opponents with all they got. I think it will happen and soon.

If Panthers have rough start, look for them to deal Weiss. Pretty sure his contract expires at season's end and he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Thought it was telling that they didn't name him captain. Most teams like forwards to be captain, and he would have been obvious choice because of his longevity with club. Only other defensive captains besides Jovo are Chara, Weber, Salvador, Streit and Phaneuf. Weiss played his butt off last season and really helped get the team to the playoffs. But I agree, he's probably a third-liner, especially once the kids get called up.

Prof Hal hold on a minute. Typical south florida excuses about no training camp. Versteeg is good but to say Gudbranson is "great" is a joke. By the way, Weiss hasn't finished a check since he's been here. And finally, any player who wants to play for a team who hadn't made the playoffs until last year isn't a winner. That's Weiss

The Panthers are a bunch of broken down has beens that have no energy. Parros who is suppose to stir it up and create energy is useless. Tallon draft picks suck.

Tallon is a fraud, please dude. The guy built a Cup winner in Chicago a couple years back. If you're gonna just crack on the Panthers because you're from Canada and believe only cold weather places have the right to enjoy hockey, come with something stronger than Tallon is a fraud. Seriously.

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